Sahar vetted as the Top Ranked Organization in 2016 by GlobalGiving. 

Blog News

2016 Fundraising Success!

Thanks to our fantastic donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goals for 2016!

This year, we raised $45,600 for our computer center, $5,760 for teacher transportation, $63,528 for our teacher training center, and $45,600 for our early marriage prevention program. Each of these centers and programs will touch thousands and thousands of young Afghan girls. We have provided more girls in rural northern Afghanistan with the opportunity to learn.

Education may seem like a simple action in a nation ravaged by war for the last several decades, but we have seen tremendous change in the status of girls and women. Providing quality education experiences is about more than just getting more girls into the classroom, it is about empowering them to be free, creative thinkers who can engage in the public discussion of their country’s culture and politics and be respected and heard. We are a long ways off from achieving our goals of gender parity in the Afghanistan education system, but we continue to see tremendous growth in our capability to make this a reality.

We are excited and invigorated for what’s to come in 2017! We hope you’ll join us in continuing the gift of education.

Blog News

Afghan Boarding School Design with UW Students

by Malahat Mazaher

Designing a boarding school for Afghanistan is as complex to the University of Washington students of architecture as the concept of having one is for Afghans. This quarter these aspiring architects are taught by our own Board member, Dave Miller, and their project is to design a boarding school in Afghanistan.

Rebecca Thompson, a native of Seattle, like many of her classmates, chose this studio because of its focus on a project design overseas. Her design projects have always been in the Pacific Northwest. She is especially excited about this design because she gets to work on a boarding school so far away. She says this project is challenging compared to the designs she has worked on so far.

Jeremy Smith, one of the other students in the class told me about the different types of research each one of them did before starting the design. Students have had to research culture, security, advocating for funds, typology, local materials and environmental conditions. Being mindful of these aspects of the design is a challenging task, and unlike many other designs done by other students at their level of studies.

Rebecca and her classmates find designing the boarding school challenging because it goes beyond the conventional process of structure design, such as having to actively think of security, and cultural sensitivities to certain structures like the dorms, bathrooms and dining halls. When I asked Rebecca why she took this studio course, she said that “the main factor was designing a passive design that reflected the context environmentally and culturally, instead of a glass and steel structure, which does not make sense in Afghanistan as it would here in Seattle..” Passive design means using as much of the sun, natural ventilation, day lighting, cooling and heating, instead of relying on electrical and mechanical systems as well as using traditional materials and building methods. These aspects have inspired her to come up with a design of arches and vaults that create opportunities for outdoor courtyards and indoor sunspaces.

Rebecca likes being part of this studio course because of its focus on integrating architecture and social issues like education for girls in Afghanistan. She adds,“I think a lot of times architects want to make a difference in the world through their designs and sometimes it does not happen. It is exciting to impact girls’ education by designing a school.” Rebecca focuses on capturing the emotional comfort in this space through her design. She further adds that it is a life-changing opportunity for girls to attend the boarding school but also a challenging one, leaving their family while still feeling safe in an unknown space is difficult and it is important that they find not just physical comfort but also emotional comfort.

Khwaja Atif, an International student at the UW architectural studio from Pakistan, is impressed with the idea of a boarding school for high school students. This concept is new to him, as Pakistan does not have girls’ boarding schools. Additionally, Atif ‘s design is focusing on how to engage local community with the school. He suggested that the library of the school should be open to public so that an open and intellectual environment is encouraged. This idea makes the school not just a structure for the rest of the town rather a reminder of the impact knowledge can have.

Blog News

Sahar’s New Fellow

Sahar has a new fellow! Malahat began working with Sahar as a fellow in November 2016. Before that she served as an intern at Sahar. She is from Afghanistan and came to the United States for her studies. She graduated from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, with a double major in International Affairs (IA) and Economics. In IA, she concentrated on Global Conflict and Cooperation and in Economics she has a special interest in economic development.

To read more about Malahat, visit the US Program Leadership tab.



Blog News

Fall Event Success

With contributions from our generous guests and board members, we raised $103,000 at our 4th Annual Fundraising Event. This money will fully fund our pilot coding project for Afghan girls next year.

Thank you to Grace Rivera for our event photos, Coe Elementary for their dedication to our organization, our sponsors (listed below) and our speakers, Edreece Arghandiwal, Airokhsh Faiz Qaisary and Dr. Shinkai Hakimi.

To view the complete album, visit our Facebook page.










#GivingTuesday November 29th, 2016

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. This year it falls on November 29. If you donate on Tuesday November 29, your gift will be doubled by the match up to $1,000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To make a donation head over to our Global Giving site. Matching begins at 00:00:01 a.m. EST. 


Sahar Receives New Grant for Early Marriage Prevention

Sahar is pleased to announce it has received a $25,000 grant from the International Foundation. These funds will support the Early Marriage Prevention program.

Early marriage in Afghanistan remains a common custom. Our program aims to keep girls in school until graduation from high school.

We work with girls in 5th-12th grades to improve these odds with seminars on self-esteem, human and legal rights, professional female mentorship and job training. We include fathers, brothers and community members in our initiative. 



Sahar to Recognize Outstanding Contributions by Frantz H. Coe Elementary

On October 27, 2016, the Seattle-based nonprofit, Sahar, will recognize the students, staff, and parents at Frantz H. Coe Elementary with the Janet W. Ketcham Award. Sahar gives this award every year at their annual dinner to recognize an outstanding contribution to girls’ education in Afghanistan.

Over the last 14 years, Coe Elementary students, parents, and teachers have raised more than $70,000 to fund Sahar’s work to expand access to education for Afghan girls.

The partnership began after Coe Elementary’s school building was destroyed by a fire on January 21, 2001. As parents, teachers, and students began to process their loss, they discussed the fact that other children in other parts of the world did not have a school.

The following year, the Coe Elementary community committed to raise money to help build one of the first girls’ schools in northern Afghanistan after the Taliban’s fall from power—and to continue to raise money each year to maintain it.

Coe Elementary students have raised money and awareness through bake sales, coin drives, and educational events. They’ve funded a new school roof, a library, a well, books, a playground, science equipment, teacher training workshops, and other projects to benefit the girls at their sister school in Afghanistan.

 There is a very simple formula for breaking down cultural stereotypes and prejudice: allow the natural curiosity of children to blossom. Coe Elementary’s project has shaped an entire generation of young people in Seattle and rural Afghanistan. Questions that began with, “What do Afghan and American children eat and do with their time after school?” have helped students mature into international citizens. The beauty of a group of five-year-olds sitting in the Coe gymnasium blossomed into a journey that—for many—continues today, fostering cultural competencies in two crucial nations.”

Ginna Brelsford, Executive Director, Sahar

About the Janet W. Ketcham award: Seattle native Janet Wright Ketcham is devoted to breaking down the barriers that exist for girls and women in Afghanistan. To date, more than 23,000 girls have been served by schools funded by the Janet W. Ketcham Foundation. Sahar honors Ms. Ketcham’s generosity and dedication every year with this award. Ms. Ketcham studied at Smith College, where she has since served on the Board of Trustees. She is also a University of Washington graduate.

About Sahar: Sahar’s vision started with building bridges of understanding between the U.S. and Afghanistan for peace and cooperation in 2001. Since then, Sahar has expanded, building schools, computer centers, and managing teacher training programs in Northern Afghanistan. Sahar has worked in the midst of ongoing conflict for over a decade to increase the status of girls and women in Afghanistan through education, enabling them to participate actively in the social, political, and economic arenas in their communities.

Sahar partnered with the University of Washington’s School of Architecture to design their newest school in Gohar Khaton, reflecting the local culture and values of the Muslim society. The UW School of Architecture continues to offer a studio-design course using the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School as a case study to solve development issues.

Tickets for Sahar’s fundraising dinner this year on October 27th are available at Please register by October 14th.


For more information, contact:

Virginia Turner


Frantz H. Coe Elementary School


Blog News

Sahar Receives Two New Grants

Sahar is pleased to announce that we recently received two new grants! The Rotary Club of Seattle 4 and The Girls Rights Foundation in Menlo Park, California both supported our Early Marriage Prevention program. This program provides 1500 girls with education about the challenges of marrying early, legal rights and ways to engage fathers and community members in preventing early marriage. We look forward to the second year of our pilot program.

Blog News

In Country Observations

My partnership with SAHAR started in 2013 when I was offered the job as structural engineer and construction advisor for the Gohar Khatoon Girls School Project, a school building designed with a new technique for the first time in Afghanistan. The Gohar Khatoon school design is different from the conventional school design done by the Afghan Ministry of Education (MOE) and is based on the sustainability concept that considers the social, economical and environmental parameters in design of the buildings. With this uniqueness, Gohar Khatoon has the potential significantly impact school design in Afghanistan.

Over the past two and half years working with the professional team of SAHAR and other partners including the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, Afghan American Friendship Foundation (AAFF) and Lead Architect Robert Hull was a privilege for me. Furthermore my involvement with this project helped me find my future career direction in “Sustainable Engineering” to first pursue a master level studies and then work in this valuable field in my country, Afghanistan.

Solaiman-225x300Solaiman Salahi received his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Pune University in India. He currently has his own enterprise providing construction consultations. Solaiman serves on the Board of Herat Builders Association. Mr. Salahi has over 5 years of professional experience with national and international organizations in planning, designing and executing of infrastructure projects in different parts of the country. He has also participated in academic, social and professional workshops and conferences in and out of the country. He holds a diploma in Leadership from the Institute for Leadership Development (ILD) Herat under Morning Star Foundation. In addition to his professional career, Solaiman has participated in many volunteer activities with organizations that focus on the environment, poverty alleviation, education and economic empowerment.